The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

BBC
 
Forcing democracy in Zimbabwe
By Alastair Leithead
BBC correspondent on the Zimbabwean border

Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai is on trial for treason
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is a man who is tired, but resolute.

Worn down by intimidation and constant court appearances for treason charges laid upon him by a repressive government, he seems to lack the energy of old.

Treason charges prevent him from leaving the country and lobbying abroad, but he is determined to keep fighting.

His party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has begun its campaign ahead of the March 2005 parliamentary elections, but it wants and needs electoral reform first.

"If the MDC goes... [into the next elections] under the current electoral act, they will be wiped out through rigging, through manipulation, through all kinds of methods," believes John Makumbe, a political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe.

Dilemma

But he says they are far from finished.

"The party has weathered the storm. They have remained together and are in a stage of consolidation."

Last year the party announced its "final push" and mass action was planned to protest at President Robert Mugabe's authoritarian grip on power.

But the police cracked down hard and the demonstrations fizzled out.

I think the answer as to what's next is to go back to basics... but it needs the people of Zimbabwe to suffer a lot more before they are ripe for mobilisation
Political scientist at Zimbabwe University John Makumbe
So there is a dilemma facing the party over whether it should continue to participate in elections if they are not democratic, or withdraw from the process and concentrate efforts elsewhere.

"There are arguments for and against participation, but if you participate under flawed conditions you are legitimising the process, but if you don't participate you make yourself irrelevant. They are both very strong arguments," says Mr Tsvangirai.

"We will prepare for the elections but a possible decision not to participate may be taken at a later stage," he adds.

There are growing voices of dissent growing impatient with the MDC's strategy.

Max Mkandla is president of Zimbabwe Liberators' Peace Initiative, a group he calls "the real war veterans" as opposed to the groups invading farms at the behest of the government.

Death risk

"You can not preach peace where there is not peace. Plan A is the only answer and in the Plan A, the bullet is the only way forward to replace the government of the day," he says.

It is an extreme view, and the strength and loyalty of the police and military makes any non-democratic route dangerous.

And some wonder how keen people will be to risk death on the streets when they barely have the strength to feed themselves.

But Mr Makumbe believes mass action is the answer.

"I think the answer as to what's next is to go back to basics. Go back to mass action, but it needs the people of Zimbabwe to suffer a lot more before they are ripe for mobilisation."

Opposition supporters
Mass opposition stay aways fizzled out after police crackdowns
While the MDC ponders a big decision, the ruling Zanu-PF party seems fraught by its own problems of infighting as a power struggle threatens to envelop the organisation.

"Zanu-PF is not in the best of shapes and is in danger of crumbling as a result of the fissures that have occurred due to the succession problem," says Brian Kagoro, chair of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, an organisation representing civic groups.

"I think the final solution is for Mugabe to go. He is the main stumbling block. Even for Zanu he has become a liability.

He is stuck in a rhetoric that is unhelpful for his party and the future of this country. He has allowed chaos to prevail even within his own party."

A Harare-based economist, John Robertson, suggests the collapsing economy could play its part, with internal pressure for change mounting from the young movers and shakers, simply because "there is nothing left to steal".

So the spiralling economy could bring the government down, as could party infighting or international pressure, but a democratic solution in next year's elections seems, right now, the least likely outcome.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

SABC

Zimbabwe ruling party mulls creating new poll body
June 26, 2004, 13:27

Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu (PF) party is considering the creation of an
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to run the country's polls, state
media reports. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says
deeply rooted flaws in electoral laws make it impossible to hold free and
fair polls in Zimbabwe, and have helped Robert Mugabe, that country's
president, tighten his 24-year-old grip on power.

Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabwe's minister of justice and parliamentary affairs,
brought the proposal to Zanu (PF) decision-making body, the politburo, which
approved it yesterday, the Herald newspaper said.

Chinamasa today confirmed that his party is working on the reform, but
refused to comment on any details.

"I have not given a statement on the issue. The issue has not yet been
finalised," he said.

The Herald quoted unnamed sources saying the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) would supervise voter registration, approve and procure ballot boxes
and monitor the operations and finances of all political parties. Mugabe
will appoint members in consultation with parliament and the Judicial
Services Commission, but the electoral commission will have financial
autonomy and be accountable to parliament.

There are currently four bodies running elections in Zimbabwe, with
overlapping duties.

According to the Herald, an ad hoc court will be established within six
months to deal with electoral disputes. The country's courts are clogged by
disputes from the 2000 parliamentary polls.

Zimbabwe will also start using translucent ballot boxes and do away with the
contentious wooden boxes.

Several Western countries agree with the opposition's claim that Mugabe
fraudulently won another six-year term in 2002. However, Mugabe, who
dismisses the opposition MDC as a puppet of his Western opponents, insists
he won fairly. - Reuters
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Comment from ZWNEWS, 26 June

Much more than electoral fraud

"War consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting; but in a tract
of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known"
[Thomas Hobbes.Leviathan.1651]

Thus we might describe Zimbabwe since February 2000. Whilst this
characterization might seem a little extreme to the bystander, this is
undoubtedly common cause as all the evidence shows. It is reflected in the
rhetoric of the State and the Government; in the statements made from
president Mugabe downwards - the state and the government continually
describe their situation as one of war, and claim to be besieged on all
sides by "enemies", and describe all their opponents, internal and external,
as "enemies". This might be dismissed as mere rhetoric if it were not for
all the other evidence. The evidence of gross human rights violations, of
epidemic levels of organized violence and torture, cannot be separated from
the rhetoric. The application of repressive legislation and extended use of
the security forces, with the setting up of militia groups, cannot be seen
separate from the rhetoric. The muzzling of the press and the interference
with normal civilian activity cannot be seen as unrelated to the rhetoric.
And, like all periods before in Zimbabwe's history, the rhetoric accompanies
a military style solution to a civic crisis, and the State and the
Government wage war upon the citizens.

This conclusion is easily supported by all the existing evidence, and the
evidence makes allegations much more serious than is evident from the
international response to the Zimbabwe crisis as a small "illegitimacy"
problem. The "reduction" of the Zimbabwe crisis to a problem over elections,
and hence amenable to a solution around tinkering with electoral law and
process does not do justice to the alleged facts. The allegations suggest a
much greater problem; much more than electoral fraud or persistent human
rights violations. The allegations suggest crimes against humanity, the most
grievous crime that can be levelled at a nation. It is not shown in the
deaths, but in the policy of politicide implemented by the Mugabe regime
since February 2000. As the definition in the Rome Statute for the
International Criminal Court states, "crime against humanity" mean acts when
committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any
civilian population, with knowledge of the attack. Torture, when part of a
widespread and systematic attack directed at a civilian population, is thus
recognized as a crime against humanity, and this allegation can be levelled
against the State and the Government of Zimbabwe.

That such a state of affairs describes Zimbabwe today was the clear
conclusion of Zimbabweans meeting in Johannesburg in August 2003, and formed
the basis for the Declaration of the Johannesburg Symposium. The conclusion
is based on a vast outpouring of reports; from local human rights groups,
international human rights groups, election observer groups, and even
international governments. The allegations in total amount to an extremely
serious and unacknowledged problem. The major focus for all this horror is
actually very simple to see, but usually leads to an incorrect analysis
about the nature of the crisis. Elections are the cause and the goal for all
the organized violence and torture, because the issue is the maintenance of
political power for Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF. Like Ian Smith before him,
Robert Mugabe deals with the legitimate challenge by repressive violence.
Unlike Ian Smith, where the issue could not be elections and resort had to
be made to purely military defense of his illegitimacy, Robert Mugabe
applies military-style defense to the subversion of elections. This is much
more important than it appears, for, if the modern world insists that
legitimate elections are the constitutive principle for democracy, it
follows that subverting this principle becomes one of the most serious
violations of the international democratic order.

The consequences, of course, are enormous. As in common with all wars, the
usual signs and symptoms of conflict can be seen, but there is a new twist:
the Mugabe regime has replaced the bodies of the dead with the shattered
psyches of countless victims of torture. In truth, the scale is difficult to
estimate, but can be gauged from all the reports, as well as the creation of
a vast stream of asylum seekers and refugees. And we have yet to count the
long-term costs for the victims, although we know from the previous
conflicts in the 1970s and 1980s that we will bear them for decades more. It
is not merely the subversion of elections that is at issue here. The waging
of civil war, through a policy of politicide, subverts another crucial
constitutive principle of democracy: the vital consensus that people must
give to the State for it to have "deep" legitimacy. It was the withdrawal of
this consensus from the racist White government of the 1960s by the black
people of Zimbabwe that led inevitably to the conflict of the 1970s and the
demise of the Smith regime. Zimbabweans have long since withdrawn their
consent for the Mugabe regime.

Since 1999, all opinion polls, reports, and research have shown the gap
between the demand and the supply of democracy. Zimbabweans have demanded a
change in the nature of their governance, and indicated very clearly their
dissatisfaction with the existing democratic arrangements. Their aspirations
have not been met, and instead they have learned rather that they cannot
popularly elect their leaders; that they have no power to control their
leaders; that they cannot protect their own rights and freedoms; and that
their aspirations to social justice have collapsed with the rampant
corruption and catastrophic economic mismanagement. This is all common
cause, and hence the problem is much greater than elections. The response by
the democratic forces in Zimbabwe to this onslaught has been to insist
throughout on democratic, non-violent resistance. This too is common cause,
despite all the attempts by the Mugabe regime to paint the opposition
political party and civil society as enemies in cahoots with imperialist
forces, aiming at the unconstitutional overthrow of the State. The response
internationally has been less than satisfactory. The tendency to respond in
a "reduced" fashion around the problem of elections has avoided the problem
over consensus, and hence the need to respond politically to a political
crisis. Furthermore, the reduced problem leads exactly to the terrain upon
which Robert Mugabe feels most comfortable; that of the validity of
elections rather than the validity of the State.

The way forward is not to ignore elections, but to also focus upon the
bigger picture, and here it becomes critical to consider the allegations as
a whole. Like South Africa before, it is imperative to focus on the whole
picture; to have considered the disenfranchisement of black South Africans
only could not have led to the world understanding apartheid as a crime
against humanity, and to the political isolation of South Africa. Political
crisis requires political action, and only two courses lie before the
international community if it is serious about abbreviating the suffering of
ordinary Zimbabweans. Political crisis requires a multi-lateral response,
and the two appropriate multi-lateral institutions have remained wholly
aloof. The first of these institutions is the Security Council of the United
Nations, and it has been imperative for some time now that the Zimbabwe
crisis requires at the very least investigation by the Secretary-General's
Office. A visit to investigate the allegations put forward by all observers
is not only in order, but long overdue. Not to do so leads to the perception
that the international legislation that governs the UN has no real meaning.

The second institution is the African Union. In terms of the new statute,
the AU recognizes the right of the Union to intervene in a member state
pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances,
namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. It can legitimately
asked how the AU will determine whether such a state of affairs exists in
the absence of direct investigation, and it can thus be asked of the AU when
it will investigate Zimbabwe. Today, on the UN International Day in Support
of the Victims of Torture, it seems fair to ask that at the very least the
allegations made by Zimbabwean victims be investigated. The victims do
assert the right to more than a fair hearing, and to fail to do this will
violate another important aspect of the consensus that must underpin
international democracy. Zimbabwe is not merely a problem of national
consensus, but is yet another opportunity to protect and expand the
consensus for international democracy. Failure to observe this consensus
leads inevitably to Iraq. For the victims of torture in Zimbabwe, it will
mean the prospect of further betrayal and the probability of more suffering,
for they will not heal until the crisis is done. It will lead to the
creation of new victims, and deeper problems for a hoped for posterity. All
it takes is a small step: to investigate seriously what is happening in
Zimbabwe, and to see the crisis as political, both in root and branch. It is
not about elections and the problems these cause; it about the withdrawal of
consent that cause elections to become problems. See this and the world will
see the crisis in its true light; see this and the plight of the victims of
torture will become visible.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

News24

'Zim will run out of food'
26/06/2004 18:45  - (SA)

Bulawayo - A prominent Zimbabwean Roman Catholic archbishop warned on
Saturday that his countrymen would soon start dying of starvation and
accused the government of lying about the level of foodstocks.

Speaking at a service to mark United Nations Day in Support of Victims of
Torture, Pius Ncube, Archbishop of Zimbabwe's second city Bulwayo, also said
"lots" of Zimbabweans had been tortured to death.

"We will have people perishing because of a government that tells lies,"
Ncube, an outspoken critic of President Robert Mugabe's government, told
some 2 000 people gathered in a Bulawayo cathedral for a special service.

"The people have no food. I have been to a couple of places this week. I
have been to Lupane, Tsholotsho, Plumtree and Beitbridge (in southern
Zimbabwe) and the people say that they will run out of food by the end of
August," said Ncube.

On Friday, the government repeated its earlier claims that it expected a
bumper maize harvest of 2.4m tons, which it said was sufficient to meet
local needs.

It said it would not need food aid from donor nationss, which last year fed
some six million Zimbabweans, who are already grappling with sky-high
inflation, a crippling unemployment rate and occasional fuel shortages.

The government's optimistic food forecasts have been disputed by independent
analysts and the opposition.

During the two-hour long service, choirs sang hymns in Zimbabwe's different
languages - Shona, Ndebele and English - while members of the congregation
lit candles in memory of torture victims.

"We have lots of people in this country who have been tortured and they have
left everything to God," Ncube said. "But as Christians we have to stand up
to torture."

Opposition groups and non-governmental organisations in politically tense
Zimbabwe allege that supporters of Mugabe's party have used torture against
government opponents over the last four years.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zimbabwe
 

Zimbabwe mulls changes to electoral system


A GRAPHIC showing how Zimbabweans voted in the 2000 general elections


By Agencies
Last updated: 06/27/2004 07:19:50 Last updated: 06/27/2004 03:20:42
ZIMBABWE is mulling changes to its electoral system ahead of general polls next year, with voting to take place on one day only under the supervision of a new "independent" electoral commission, a daily said Saturday.

The proposed new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which will be "independent of government" will replace the current supervisors, including the Registrar General and the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), the state-controlled Herald said. The new body will have five members appointed by President Robert Mugabe out of a list of seven candidates forwarded by parliament, the state-controlled Herald said.

The current Electoral Supervisory Commission also has members appointed by Mugabe, who has ruled this southern African nation since its 1980 independence from Britain.

Quoting sources who attended a meeting this week of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF)'s central decision-making politburo, the paper said voting would no longer take place over two days, but one.


• Mugabe bars 'imperialist' poll observers

• Zim hints at postal ballot for exiles

• Mugabe's opponents wary of new electoral laws

• Mugabe shifsts goal posts

• Zimbabwe's future lies in voting

• Gwisai warns MDC ahead of poll

• Tsvangirai's message to Zimbabweans

• MDC threatens poll boycott

• MDC dismisses Mbeki talks claim

The proposed changes come after widespread criticism of Zimbabwe's electoral process following general elections in 2000 and presidential elections in 2002, which the main opposition party and some international observers said were not free and fair.

The authorities plan to set up more polling booths to allow for speedier voting, the Herald said. Votes will no longer be taken to counting centres for verification but will be counted at polling stations.

Translucent ballot boxes are to be used in place of wooden ones and electoral disputes will be settled in a special court in the six months following the polls. The proposed changes are to be discussed by cabinet and, if approved, to be forwarded for parliamentary approval, the Herald said.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) complained earlier this month that most of its challenges arising from the 2000 elections had not been heard, whilst seven challenges that had been won by the MDC were still under appeal.

It had demanded that more than a dozen conditions - including an independent electoral commission - be met for it to participate in next year's elections.

The other conditions include the repeal of strict press and security laws.
AFP

Back to the Top
Back to Index

SABC

Victims of torture speak out

June 26, 2004, 18:40

The cries of victims of torture, echo from all corners of the world. Most
often, those cries are stifled or worse still, ignored. Today was the
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and rather aptly, a vigil
against the crime was held at Constitution Hill, a place where freedom was
once denied.

Constitution Hill, brings back memories for Yvonne Ntonto Mhlauli. It was at
the place where she was put in prison during the 80s for resisting pass
laws.

"There was a place here at the women's jail where it was cold for us to do a
parade when we come back from the courts. They said we must strip. The
police women who were searching us, even in our privarte parts if - you
know - maybe somebody is not carrying a dangerous weapon. So it was hell,"
said Nhlauli.

Although those who have been tortured are being remembered today, the
practise is still taking place worldwide. There is a call for an end to
torture in countries like Sudan, Zimbabwe and Iraq. Gabriel Shumba, a human
rights lawyer from Zimbabwe, had a bad experience because he represented an
opposition member.

Samkhelo Mokhine of Amnesty International said: "Not only should we say
human rights are important, but in the actions that government take against
governments who commit torture should be active actions taken by the african
union. And against the very same people - individuals - who perpetrates
tortures."

Mhlauli has not forgotten what happened to her, but she now hopes others
around the world can be saved from being subjected to torture.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

China denies jet fighters report

      Zimbabwe Independent
      Fri 25-Jun-2004

      "It's a confidential matter. Let's leave it because it compromises
national security"

      Dumisani Muleya

      China made frantic efforts this week to deny reports that it sold
Zimbabwe US$240 million worth of jet fighters and military vehicles. Chinese
diplomats in South Africa and Zimbabwe scrambled belatedly to deny reports
of the military hardware purchase. One of the diplomats claimed China had
not sold weapons to Zimbabwe since he arrived in Zimbabwe in 2001. A
spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Harare, Nan Xiao, said Zimbabwe had not
"ordered or bought" fighters and army vehicles from his country. He said
Zimbabwe had not bought any arms from China since he arrived in Harare in
2001, despite reports to the contrary. "It's not true that the Zimbabwe
government bought military equipment from China," Xiao said in an interview.
"The Zimbabwean army has not bought anything from us." This followed a
similar denial by Liu Guijin, China's ambassador to South Africa. Guijin
said he had contacted the Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zhang Xianyi, and
established that the report was not true. "We find that the report is not
true and it is baseless," he said.

      Zimbabwe reportedly ordered 12 FC-1 jet fighters and 100 military
vehicles. The story broke three weeks ago after the Ministry of Defence's
permanent secretary Trust Maphosa appeared before parliament's portfolio
committee on Defence and Home Affairs on the issue. Neither Maphosa nor the
parliamentary committee have publicly denied the reports. Saviour
Kasukuwere, chairman of the committee, on Tuesday refused to discuss the
matter, citing "national security". "It's a confidential matter. Let's leave
it because it compromises national security," he said. Efforts to get
comment from Maphosa failed. Military sources said China was denying the
reports to avoid publicity over its burgeoning arms trade. South Africa -
the only country in Africa with a well-established arms industry - has
reportedly voiced concerns about Chinese arms "floating in the region".

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Observer

      Studio 7 spreading hate- Moyo
      by STAFF EDITORS (6/26/2004)

Botswana-based Studio 7 which beams into Zimbabwe is spreading hate and
trying to subvert a democratically elected government, information minister
Jonathan Moyo has said. The minister added that the station is being aided
by opposition legislators in a campaign similar to that played by a Rwandan
radio station accused of contributing to that country's genocide.

"What the people of Zimbabwe have heard on the airwaves which seeks to
promote not just hate, but to subvert the republic, comes through Studio 7
which is sponsored by countries with hostile intentions but which are
working closely with Honourable Members of the opposition party.
 "This... gives us an opportunity to register our concern about what this
side is doing with Voice of America (VoA) on the so-called studio 7 by
causing unnecessary commotion," he said
Moyo said this in parliament yesterday in response to a question that was
posed by Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure.

The opposition legislator had asked the minister if it was his ministry's
policy to promote hate among Zimbabweans through the channelling of
propaganda in the public media.
The Kambuzuma MP alleged that what the State media was doing was the same as
that which resulted in the Rwanda massacres, but the Moyo refuted the
allegations saying it was instead Studio 7 which was doing that.

Moyo also dismissed allegations that the Media and Information Commission
(mic) was biased, arguing that the titles under the Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe (ANZ) had been victims of not following the law, while the issue of
The Tribune, whose license was suspended recently, had its matter under the
judiciary which he said was independent enough to make a judgement.
The information chief drew heated exchanges between ruling and opposition
legislators when he went on to allege that the MDC was a party of puppets.
He supported his argument by quoting a speech made by the British premier
Tony Blair in the House of Commons on the 14th of this month in which the
latter said his government was working closely with the opposition in this
country to effect a "regime change."

He also made references to opposition members who recently disrupted
government's Homelink initiative saying that could only be done by puppets,
allegations opposition lawmakers denied.
The government has raised its concern about the operations of Studio 7 with
the Botswana authorities, who said they were not aware that the station was
operating from within their borders, but gave an undertaking to investigate
the claims.

 Source: Daily Mirror by Clemence Manyukwe issue date :2004-Jun-25
Back to the Top
Back to Index